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Breaking Through the Noise: How to Advertise During an Election Year When You’re Not a Political Brand

The 2024 political advertising season is shaping up to be the most expensive in history.1 And with so many political ad dollars in play, non-political brands may find it more difficult to stand out in a loud political climate.

Advertisers need to thoughtfully consider how they invest their budgets to ensure their messaging isn’t drowned out during the busy political season. Read on for strategies to help break through the noise.

Diversify Ad Strategies Across All Screens

Planning media investments during an election year can prove to be trickier for non-political brands. With higher demand and limited inventory driving up the cost of advertising, it’s critical that brands find the right media mix to make the most of their ad budget. Diversifying ad strategies can help extend campaign reach, meet the right audiences wherever they are watching, and leave a longer lasting impression.

For example, as the fragmented video ecosystem continues to splinter, brands must navigate the balance between streaming and traditional TV to increase reach. Traditional TV continues to drive the large majority (73%) of multiscreen TV campaign reach while streaming helps deliver the light- to no-TV viewing households.2 Since 2021, ongoing analysis from more than 150,000 multiscreen TV campaigns found that allocating 20-30% of budget to streaming maximized reach.2

Include FAST

Free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platforms, such as Xumo Play and Pluto TV, are a powerful alternative to stacked inventory on traditional TV and streaming. Nearly half of all consumers watch at least one FAST service, with FAST viewers using an average of 1.9 FAST channels.3 FAST channels are growing at a rapid pace, too. Between 2017 and 2023, FAST usage increased by nearly 50%.3 Now, more than 70 million people regularly watch these streaming services, and more than half of all advertisers consider FAST a great way to extend the reach of their audiences.3

Utilize Addressable to Reach Valuable Audiences

Addressable TV advertising is a tactic that can be used by any advertiser looking to reach specific audiences across linear TV and streaming, in a very strategic way that helps limit fraud and waste. With addressable, advertisers have access to insights from deterministic data that is authenticated against information like MVPD subscriber lists or registrations which ensures it is legitimate for accurate audience targeting and effective match rates. In fact, an analysis found that addressable match rates are more precise and can have an initial match rate as high as 95% compared to only 60% when IP address was used. This provides advertisers with confidence that they are reaching the precise audience they want, in a brand safe, premium environment.

In addition, because addressable uses authenticated data, advertisers are better able to match ad exposures to outcomes or conversions and gain a better understanding of what media is performing well and what isn’t. This helps advertisers better optimize future campaigns to drive results.

Incorporating addressable into this year’s ad campaigns will help advertisers make their media dollars work harder and more efficiently – even among all the political noise.

Lean into Live Sports

While political advertisers often focus on news, non-political advertisers can stand out by investing in other highly visible content such as live sports. Super Bowl LVIII alone brought in almost 124 million viewers making it the most-watched broadcast in TV history.4 The NFL wild cards game, which aired exclusively on Peacock broke live streaming records with 23 million viewers tuning in.5 The real-time, high stakes nature of live sports keeps audiences engaged. In fact, a recent survey found that 41% of viewers like the suspense and rollercoaster of emotions that comes with watching live sports.6

Last year, almost 90% of Comcast households watched live sports spending a monthly average of 23 hours a month with it.7 And 67% of those live sports were viewed by two or more people making it a valuable avenue for brands to get in front of large, engaged audiences simultaneously.8

Get Creative

Amidst a higher volume of political ads, leaning into more creative ad concepts and elements can help a brand attract attention. Creative elements such as humor, positivity, and feel-good storytelling have been proven to leave a lasting impression on viewers. A previous study found that, when emotion was the strongest ad element, viewers were 27% more apt to like a brand.9 Clever, fresh content that generates strong positive emotions is a powerful tool to stand out across screens.9

Making the Most of an Election Year

Advertisers may face limited inventory as the election draws nearer. Luckily, we have a wealth of alternative options when it comes to producing impactful multiscreen campaigns. Brands that strategically adjust their content and placement can reach audiences at large. If you need additional assistance in optimizing your ad campaigns, Effectv can help.

Sources:

1. 2023–2024 Political Spending Projections Report., AdImpact, 2024. 
2. Comcast Aggregated Viewership Data combined with Ad Exposure Data from TV + Effectv Streaming campaigns (2H ‘23).
3. The State of FAST., Comcast Advertising and XUMO, 2023.
4. Super Bowl LVIII Draws 123.7 Million Average Viewers, Largest TV Audience on Record., Neilsen, 2024. 
5. Peacock Exclusive AFC Wild Card Game Is Biggest Live-Streamed Event in U.S. History and Drives Internet Usage to Single Day U.S. Record., Comcast, 2024.
6. Comcast Advertising, Kantar consumer survey, April 2024, n=1000.
7. Comcast Aggregated Viewership Data for sports programming 2023.
8. TVision Program Analysis Time Period Report. Live + SD on linear only within Effectv footprint. January – December 2023. Co-viewing rate is the proportion of viewing where two or more viewers are in the room with the content tuned for a minimum of 5 minutes for program time and 2 seconds for commercial time.
9. Two Keys to Effective Creative., Effectv, 2022.